Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A few Alan Dunn architectural cartoons from 'The Last Lath' (circa 1937 - 1947)

Boy howdy, short of having someone explain why a joke is funny, there's nothing more entertaining than heavily dated old magazine cartoons in need of contextual footnotes...

Fortunately (or hopefully), the esoteric charm of this batch of panels may transcend their bygone topicality.

Cartoonist Alan Dunn (1900 – 1974) may still hold the record as the New Yorker's most prolific illustrator, responsible for 1906 cartoons and 9 covers during his tenure there, from 1926 - 1973.

Capitalizing on his background in design, Dunn also contributed many cartoons to Architectural Record, beginning in 1936.

A collection of those cartoons, 'The Last Lath' was first published in 1947.
In addition to lampooning the modern design trends and technologies of the 1930s and '40s, much of the humor centers around the terminology used by contractors and architects of the day, as well as realities like WWII-era material shortages and the post-war
housing boom.

- - Oh, and they're cool, too.

Probably there are very similar gag cartoons around today, just with more up-to-date buzzwords...

For a bit more about Alan Dunn, see also:

- A brief bio about Dunn and his wife, fellow New Yorker cartoonist, Mary Petty.

- Other Alan Dunn book covers displayed at Christopher Wheeler's Cartoon(ist) Gallery.

(click on images to enlarge in a new window)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Arnold Stang, 1918 - 2009

Upon the recent news of his death at age 91, a moment please to celebrate the life and career of character actor and voice artist Arnold Stang.

A small round-up of links from the web:

- A New York Times obituary.

- A wonderful, rambling profile posted in 2007 at WFMU's Beware of the Blog.

- A remembrance, showbiz anecdotes and an old 'Herman and Katnip' cartoon at
Mark Evanier's News From Me.

- Click over to Flickr for
LORAC!'s Arnold Stang photoset.
Publicity shots, advertising, record covers, etc. A great collection.

- Mr. Stang's screen credits listed at IMDb.

- An entry at TV Party includes a RealPlayer clip from an unsold late-'50s TV pilot for 'The Arnold Stang Show'.

- The 1960 kiddie record 'Arnold Stang's Waggish Tales' found him telling the tales of Peter and The Wolf and Ferdinand the Bull with orchestral accompaniment.

As of this writing, the LP may be heard via
Do You Speak English ?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hoyt Curtin Rocks: A few old Flintstones music cues

When re-watching vintage 1960s episodes of 'The Flintstones', a heaping portion of the cozy,
comfort-food nostalgia it kindles comes from the familiar background music heard throughout the run of the series.
As with so much of the TV I was glued to in my youth, the soundtrack to the show has been part of the soundtrack to my life.

Hoyt Curtin had been Hanna-Barbera's primary composer and arranger, responsible not only for the Flintstones underscore and its immortal theme song, but for the music heard in almost all of the animation studio's many productions, from their origins in the mid-1950s until Curtin's retirement
in the '80s.

For a while, much of Curtin's H-B music was commercially available on various cartoon music CDs released by the Rhino label, but sadly and shockingly it looks like they've all lapsed out of print.

From one of those discs, the background music cues posted below all go back to the original Flintstones series.
As a finicky nerd, it had bothered me that Rhino had chosen to tack each of these brief themes onto the end of the 'primary' songs-from-the-series tracks, as sort of unlisted 'mystery bonus fun'.

- - So, for the sake of my own dork-tastic needs (and maybe even yours) I futzed with them, to bring some focus to just those Curtin instrumentals.

All of the listed titles are ones I made up, just as a referential aid for the different files, previously unnamed on the Rhino releases.

- If you have knowledge of any 'real' titles for these cuts, or have more info to share about Hoyt Curtin's cartoon music, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.


(click for audio)

1. Reedy Saunter (1:22)
2. Quarry (0:30)
3. Short Chirpy Bridge (0:09)
4. Mischief March (0:23)
5. 'Oh Brother' Punchline (0:09)
6. Jaunty Stroll (0:55)
7. Harried Exit (0:11)
8. Brassy Exit Fanfare (0:10)
9. No Brakes! (1:00)
10. Bouncy Exit (0:18)
11. Driving Into Bedrock (0:41)
12. Stumbling Xylophone (0:27)
13. Morning After Pomp (0:32)
14. Walking Dino, Fred Follows (1:04)
15. Military Maneuvers (0:30)
16. Quizzical Exit Fanfare (0:07)

(click for audio)

- - OR click here to grab all 16 tracks in one 11.8 Mb zipfile.

- For a bit more of old Hanna-Barbera cartoon music by Hoyt Curtin, you might try here, or at a post about 'Jonny Quest' music at If I Only Had...

- And while listening to Flintstones music, you could do far worse than to peruse the dozens of fascinating Bedrock screen captures and other edifying wonders on display over at John K Stuff.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A World Without Lou Jacobi?!? (1913 - 2009)

Another obit.

Actor Lou Jacobi has left this world, at age 95.

That's a good long run.

- Follow link to his obituary from The New York Times.

Five decades spent in showbiz.
Numerous appearances on stage, screen, TV - - and I'll wager that there is not one production among them that was not greatly improved by his presence.

Even just the sound of his distinctive voice - - I have fond memories of hearing him in the ensemble cast of some of Booker & Foster's silly comedy albums, like 'When You're In Love, The Whole World Is Jewish', or in the role of band leader Al Tijuana. ▶

- Click over to the 'Tijuana Brass Sound' box set post at WFMU's Beware of The Blog and you'll find numerous Al Tijuana cuts sprinkled throughout the available mp3s.

(At the very least, take a listen to the adaptation of
'Peter Gunn'.)

A World Without Lou Jacobi In It?

Impossible to contemplate.

No thank you, I reject the notion.

His listing at IMDb tells me that it has been fifteen years since Lou Jacobi's last film credit, but I've enjoyed watching him on several occasions during that time.

I also see in that long list at IMDb that there are still many of his performances waiting for me in films I've not yet seen.

Thank you for everything Mr. Jacobi, I look forward to seeing you again soon.

- A YouTube clip embedded below: ▼

From 1971, a juicy Jacobi scene from Jules Feiffer's 'Little Murders', directed by Alan Arkin.

Jacobi plays the judge, reacting to news from engaged couple Marcia Rodd & Elliott Gould that they plan to omit God from their wedding vows...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reasons To Be Cheerful: week of 10/23/09

Hello again!
Yes, months have passed and there has been not a peep from this blog, and it's been many more months since I've posted any sort of regular 'Reasons To Be Cheerful' entry.

Simply put, things haven't been cheerful.
Mostly things have been difficult, mostly in the same ways they've been difficult for mostly everyone everywhere.
Perhaps you've noticed these things.

Personally, I hate reading blogs with excuses, so for me it's been easier to say nothing.

(Above: 'This Is Not A Peep'▲ found in the flickr stream of Coyote Crossing, via Aristocob)

Thanks to everyone who has written, whether wondering about my whereabouts, expressing concern or wishing well.

While all my stuff continues to sit boxed up in storage hundreds of miles away, for the forseeable future it seems the only stuff I can enjoy sharing with you on this blog are things I've bumped into recently, and stuff I can point you towards that I've seen on the interwebs.

But it's still great fun to share, so let's get to it!

1. Comic Soupy Sales crosses the finish line at age 83. Bon Voyage Soup!

- Follow link to the New York Times obituary.

At right is the cover image from an LP I had as a little kid, one that I played over and over again on my little variable-speed portable phonograph, although I'd never seen the TV show.

I'd never caught Soupy's schtick with Pookie or White Fang or the rest of his puppet friends, but was still fascinated and entertained.

- Follow another link to a nifty collection of Soupy Sales Memorabilia.

And so on to fashion - -

2. Perhaps photos of 'Woolies' have already found their way to you?

It was news to me, and to a friend who passed them along to me. She says she was innocently googling for information on knitting with wool and came across photos of wool fetishists in various parts of the world.

These photos are from a French fetishists forum (Not quite safe for work), as featured at Izismile.Com.

Whatever makes you happy is fine with me, but my first reaction was to naively wonder how long I could be able stand the heat and the itchiness - -

- - followed by wondering about how soon a fully wool body-suit would start to stink, how you deal with stains and are they machine washable.

Too practical, I know... I've heard it before...

3. And then there are the average people we see around us everyday as we set about our erranding...

The administrators at People of Walmart.Com are quick to stress that their site is not affiliated with Walmart.

We'll see how long that lasts as they continue this fascinating cultural anthropology project.

Folks from all over the U.S. are sending in photos they've taken of assorted "Wal-Creatures" they've encountered in the wild.

I'm sure I'd enjoy wandering the site more if the captions included for the photos weren't often so mean-spirited, but - -

- - even so...

... It can be...

... awfully...

... danged...

... difficult...

... to look away.

Compelling and important evidence!

Head over to
People of Walmart.Com and see for yourself.

4. Speaking of the rich pageantry of fancies and foibles found surrounding the human animal, the new Coen Brothers movie has opened.

Once again they've provided that brilliant balance of great story and visuals, superb casting and perfect left-field unpredictability that I always hope for in their films.

I'm so pleased that I managed to see 'A Serious Man' before I'd heard a thing about it.
No reviews, no synopsis, no mention of who was in it.

It won't happen very often, but I think that for most films (good, bad or indifferent) entering a theater without a clue is the best way to go, if you can possibly manage it.

Probably it helps if you have a good track record with the filmmakers.

As with other flicks from the Coens, 'A Serious Man' includes an interesting soundtrack with some note-worthy recordings.

It makes great use of several cuts from Jefferson Airplane's 'Surrealistic Pillow' album and a couple of other choice bits of '60s psychedelia, but the biggest surprise is a beautifully haunting vintage vocal piece sung in Yiddish by operatic baritone Sidor Belarsky.

- Listen to Sidor Belarsky's 'Dem Milners Trern'
('The Miller's Tears')
(click on link)

This film may not do for Mr. Belarsky and Yiddish Folk, Cantorial and Art Song what 'Oh Brother, Where Art Thou' did for Ralph Stanley and Bluegrass, but still it's always nice to see a little spotlight land on an artist that's off of most people's radar.

Follow these links for more:
- A nice little article from the San Francisco Examiner about Belarski (who died in 1975), his long and illustrious career, and his daughter's efforts to perpetuate his music.

- The Man & His Music, a tribute site.

- A Yiddish music archive, featuring mp3 download links for several of Sidor Belarsky's 78 RPM recordings.

- 'Dem Milners Trern' leads off Belarsky's LP 'Jewish Melodies', streaming in it's entirety on a page at Florida Atlantic University's Judaica Sound Archives.
Further investigation shows that 20 other Sidor Belarsky records may be heard there, in addition to over 8000 songs by dozens of other performers ranging not just from Jewish religious music and folk song, but klezmer, children's music, comedy records and more.

5. Speaking of vintage tuneage rediscovered, it's been out for a few months now, but I still can't stop listening to
Loudon Wainwright III's High Wide & Handsome -
The Charlie Poole Project

- - Or trying to recommend it to people. (Thanks again to my pal Joe Sixpack for turning me on to it!)

From the website: "Loudon Wainwright III revisits the life, times, and recorded legacy of legendary singer and banjo picker Charlie Poole (1892-1931). ▼

"A grand gathering of songs both old and original..."

So not merely a collection of cover tunes, the 2-disc set also mingles in some new songs by Wainwright telling tales about the colorful life of Poole, as performed by Loudon and various musical friends and family members - - several assorted Wainwrights and Roches, Chris Thile of Nickel Creek and Geoff Muldaur from the old Kweskin Jug Band.

Some of LW3's fans may argue that it's not what they expected from him, but the whole project reeks of 'labor of love', and he's the perfect one to channel the spirit of a previous rowdy fellow troubadour.
Check it out!

- - And finally, a different stripe of musical archaeology, but nonetheless esoteric...

6. The lyrics to the theme from 'Mission Impossible'.

A little while back I was googling about while trying to remember obscure lyrics I'd heard to some old TV theme song or another, and found the best thing I could have hoped for;

'Seldom-Heard TV Theme Lyrics' posted at You Don't Have To Visit This Blog.

A 2006 post, and it looks like the blog may be dormant (a lot of that going around), but as of this writing, the download links are still active for a great mix of old TV themes - - most of which you never realized ever had lyrics.

The mix runs mostly to the 1960's and 70's, with a few more contemporary renditions or parodies thrown in.

In many cases, these television themes only had lyrics after the fact, a bit of padding on a record release trying to capitalize on a show's popularity - - Or perhaps adding extra verses to the short and familiar version sung on TV.

In some cases there had been lyrics all along, written for contractual or copyright reasons that were never used.
Usually it was the right choice, especially when the themes to many action series were inexplicably forced into the role of love songs when given the vocal treatment.

I urge you to investigate this group of tunes, and to try to keep your jaw off the floor while absorbing the lyrics to The 'Hogan's Heroes' March or 'The Odd Couple', or while listening to Sammy Davis, Jr. sing the theme from 'Hawaii Five-O'.

One oddball selection that's missing from the 'Seldom-Heard TV Theme Lyrics' mix is the amazing and twisted vocal rendition of the Mission: Impossible theme, performed by The Kane Triplets, a sister act popular in Vegas clubs and on The Ed Sullivan show in the 1960s.
Not sure when or how the vocal interpretation of composer Lalo Schifrin's familiar theme song came about, but the result needs to be heard.

- Listen to The Kane Triplets sing the 'Theme from Mission Impossible' at the Kane Triplets MySpace page, at the Kane Triplets website, or by clicking here.

The lyrics cruise past at a speedy clip, so you'll need to listen close to catch them all.

Looking around the web, it seems that most previous attempts to list these lyrics have either disappeared or were incorrect, so please allow me my attempt to keep them alive a little longer...

- 'Theme from Mission Impossible'

(verse 1)
Fly away
I'll be there

Run high
Run low
Don't stop
Go no matter where
You are bound
I'm around

On a string

Lead me there
I don't care
Cannot stop
And I won't stop
Till you're mine

I keep on dreaming of you
No doubt about it
You took my head and made it spin
Somewhere it's never been
I'm in the desert
The middle of nowhere
With no shoes I calmly bear
Burning coals of fire
But when I get through
That's when I'll begin to
undertake a mission that's impossible

(Repeat verse 1)

(Verse 2)
Don't try to hide
Don't stay beside
I'm gonna get you

Get on a plane
Go far away
But any day
I'm gonna get you

Don't be afraid
If you may find
I'm on your mind
Don't try to fight it

A waiting fuse
You can't refuse
You're gonna light it

Fly away
I'll be there

No matter where
You are bound
I'm around

Freshly-stirred links